Special thanks to Maura Ann McBreen.
The short answer is “no.”
Typically the enforceability of non-compete clauses has been subject to state law and more recently, many states have imposed limitations on the enforceability of non-competes. Some states, like California, North Dakota and Oklahoma, ban them entirely. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on January 5, 2023 issued a proposed rule that would significantly restrict the use of non-compete clauses between employers and employees as a matter of federal law. The FTC said that the proposed rule would apply to independent contractors and anyone who works for an employer, whether paid or unpaid. It would also generally prohibit employers from using non-compete clauses and make it illegal for an employer to:
- Enter into or attempt to enter into a non-compete with a worker;
- Maintain a non-compete;
- Represent to a worker that he or she is subject to a non-compete under certain circumstances.
The proposed rule would generally not apply to other types of employment restrictions, like non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements, unless such other employment restrictions were so broad as to function like non-competes. Since this function test is clearly open to interpretation, the reach of the proposed rule may be further expanded.
Continue Reading My Company Requires Employees Sign Non-competes. Should We Panic Due To The FTC’s Proposed Rule?